METAIRIE, La. -- At Jefferson Parish School Board Employees Credit Union, it's all in the name.
After more than 40 years, the credit union is changing its name to Jefferson Financial Credit Union to better reflect its ability to serve the broader community.
As the first credit union in Louisiana to receive a residential group common bond designation, which means its field of membership has expanded to include individuals that reside within a well-defined neighborhood, small community, or rural district, the time was right for a name change said President/CEO Mark Rosa.
"It's a change for the better," said Rosa. "We've got a new name, soon we'll have a new building, and, most importantly, our membership is now open to all residents of Jefferson Parish. We've been proud to be part of the education community since 1966--and now, we're expanding that commitment to all of Jefferson Parish."
Jefferson Financial is the largest state-chartered credit union in Louisiana, with $140 million in assets and 18,000 members. But with membership restricted to the school system, growth at the credit union had reached a plateau, and, before the new designation, it looked like its only option for expansion was to convert to a federal charter, which follows different field of membership guidelines than the state.
"It was a difficult position," said Rosa. "Our members are very loyal--and we all wanted to stay true to our roots. We have a long history with the state of Louisiana, but we couldn't grow anymore without making a change."
He said the Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions fortunately didn't want to see the credit union change charters either and, in August 2007, the state's OFI established new regulations for state-chartered credit unions, allowing for residential group common bond membership.
Now, with membership open to all residents of Jefferson Parish, there's a great deal of excitement at the credit union, said Jodi Boudreaux, vice president of operations at Jefferson Financial.
"I remember the days when we were located on top of a florist, working from ledger cards and filing paper statements. How the times have changed," said Boudreaux who has been with the credit union 25 years. "But this credit union is a huge part of my life--and it's exciting to see our growth and progress. We aren't losing our connection to the school system and primary members, we are simply moving in a new direction that will open more doors to the community. It's an exciting time."